Ag Policy Blog

USDA Details Plan for Debt Payments to Socially Disadvantaged Farmers

Chris Clayton
By  Chris Clayton , DTN Ag Policy Editor
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Socially disadvantaged farmers will not have to take any actions to participate in USDA's loan forgiveness program for direct and guaranteed FSA farm loans, or farm storage facility loans, USDA highlighted in information posted on its website. (DTN file photo)

USDA Details Plan for Debt Payments to Socially Disadvantaged Farmers

Socially disadvantaged farmers will not have to take any actions to participate in USDA's loan forgiveness program for direct and guaranteed FSA farm loans, or farm storage facility loans, USDA highlighted in information posted on its website.

As USDA noted, the American Rescue Plan includes provisions for USDA to pay up to 120% of loan balances, as of January 1, 2021, for Farm Service Agency (FSA) Direct and Guaranteed Farm Loans and Farm Storage Facility Loans debt relief to any socially disadvantaged producer who has a qualifying loan with FSA. This includes producers who identify as one or more of the following: Black/African American, American Indian, Alaskan Native, Hispanic/Latino, Asian American, or Pacific Islander.

The relief plan for socially disadvantaged farmers is expected to cost about $3.7 billion, according to numbers from USDA. The department shows 14,432 borrowers under the category of socially disadvantaged farmers with 25,328 loans. Current loans amounted to $2.67 billion on the books, along with the $414.9 million in delinquent debt, reaching $3.1 billion in outstanding loans for socially disadvantaged farmers. With the extra 20% added in for tax liability, that comes to about $3.7 billion.

The dollar figures involved include another caveat. USDA doesn't break out how many of the loans for socially disadvantaged farmers went to white women farmers. The American Rescue Plan uses the 1990 definition for socially disadvantaged farmers, which is defined as Black, or African American, American Indians or Native Alaskans, Hispanics, Asians and Native Hawaiians or Pacific Islanders. In 1992, specifically for credit issues, the definition of socially disadvantaged was changed to include women farmers as well. Under the American Rescue Plan, they do not qualify for that loan relief.

Since this debt payment will qualify as income, Congress determined the 20% additional payment is intended to help mitigate liabilities that occur when clearing a debt, which may include tax liabilities, among others.

Certain USDA loans are not eligible, including Marking Assistance Loans and Rural Development loans. The program also does not apply to loans at banks or Farm Credit institutions that do not include an FSA guarantee.

Farmers who have loans that qualify, but did not designate their race or ethnicity on their forms should contact their local FSA office to fill out the USDA Form AD-2047.

More information can be found at https://www.farmers.gov/…

Senate Ag to Hold Hearing on Bronaugh to be USDA Deputy Secretary

The Senate Agriculture Committee will hold a hearing Thursday, April 22, on President Biden's nomination of Jewel Bronaugh to be Agriculture deputy secretary, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and ranking member John Boozman, R-Ark., announced Wednesday.

The hearing will be held at 9:30 a.m. in Room 301 of the Russell Senate Office Building.

Senate office buildings are not open to the public, but the hearing will be livestreamed on the committee website. https://www.agriculture.senate.gov/…

NRCS Extends Deadline for Conservation Comments

The Agriculture Department's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announced Wednesday it will extend the deadline for public comment on proposed revisions to 23 national conservation practice standards until April 22.

The original deadline was April 8.

The proposed revisions to the 23 conservation practice standards are available on the Federal Register.

- Federal Register – Proposed Revisions to the National Handbook of Conservation Practices for the Natural Resources Conservation Service https://public-inspection.federalregister.gov/…

Chris Clayton can be reached at Chris.Clayton@dtn.com

Follow him on Twitter @ChrisClaytonDTN

Jerry Hagstrom can be reached at jhagstrom@nationaljournal.com

Follow him on Twitter @hagstromreport

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